I know this post is a bit premature, seeing as it’s only May, but when I see restaurants busting out their plastic tables and chairs, with boiled peanut and green soy bean shells littering the ground, I can’t help but get excited. My favorite part of summer is here: 串. The Chinese character for chuan, 串, is a perfect visual for what it is, which is meat skewers. More commonly in Beijing, lamb skewers, but luckily for me (yuck, lamb), there are many other skewers that I can enjoy.
There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of sitting outside on a warm evening, drinking a huge bottle of chilled Qingdao or Yanjing beer, and eating skewer after skewer of mysterious meats and internal organs while chatting the night away with good friends. That for me is what defines summer in China.
For the amateur Chinese bbq-er, here are some of my favorites. My theory is to try it at least once. Then again, I am Cantonese, and Cantonese people will eat anything with legs except a table, so the saying goes. Or maybe somebody just said it once, and I thought it was cleverly accurate. Anyway, here are some of my favorites:
- chicken gizzards (jī zhēn 鸡胗). I’m not exactly sure what part of the chicken it is. Somewhere internal. But they’re chewy, slightly crunchy, and delicious.
- beef tendon (niú bǎn jīn 牛板筋). Extremely chewy. Chew with the tendon lines, not against them. It’ll probably make more sense after you’ve tried it. They should be a tan color, not very filling but fun to eat.
- chive skewers (jiǔ cài 韭菜). Even though bbqs are about meat, you need your veggies. Apparently, girls aren’t supposed to eat a lot of chives because too many will upset their stomachs. But I do anyway. Cuz I’m a rebel.
- steamed buns (mán tou 馒头). I loove grilled steamed buns. How can you both grill them and steam them, you ask? First, you steam them, then you grill them. Simple.
That’s just several of the many skewers that you can get. You’ve got your veggies, your carbs, and your mysterious internal organs. If that’s not a recipe for a feast, I don’t know what is. I’ll try to post photos next time I enjoy this delicious meal in the Beijing outdoors (breathing in all that all-natural smoky air and exhaust pollution).
What’s your favorite part of summers in China? Do you have skewers to recommend next time we eat chuan 串?